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Ioannina lies at an elevation of 600 metres above sea level. It is the capital of Ioannina Prefecture and of Epirus, lying on the western side of lake Pamvotis. The city's emblem consists of the portrait of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian crowned by a stylized depiction of the nearby ancient theatre of Dodona. The city of Ioannina was founded in the 6th century by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I. It was named Ioannina, probably, meaning "(Town) of John" in Greek, because it was placed under the protection of St. John, in the early Christian period, supposedly in 510 AD. In the 13th century, the creation of the Despotate of Epirus favoured Ioannina, which became its second most important city, after its capital, Arta. In 1337-1340, Andronikos III Palaiologos, aided by John VI Kantakouzenos, dissolved the Despotate of Epirus and Ioannina became once again part of the Byzantine Empire. The city flourished in time, becoming an important financial and cultural centre. During the Byzantine times it was referred to as the "Metropolis of knowledge". (Pause for advertisement): Book deals on hotels in the best locations at your travel destinations. Make hotel reservations. Reserve hotel rooms and suites. Find lodging and accommodations to suit your tastes. Look up hotel deals at AirGorilla and (end of ad). One of the most notable attractions of Ioannina is the islet on Lake Pamvotis. The island is referred to as "Nisaki" by everyone, including its inhabitants. Passengers are ferried back and forth from the mainland to the island (about a 15-minute ride each way) on small motorboats which run on varying schedules, according to the season. Tourists can visit the monastery of Agios Panteleimon which has been converted into a museum containing information and paintings, as well as re-creations of Ali-Pasha's lounging and living quarters. Ali Pasha spent the last days of his life in St Panteleimon, waiting for a pardon from the Sultan. The museum is not the only attraction on the island: there are many gift-shops, tavernas, churches and bakeries on the island's winding streets. The castle area. It ?s in the center of the town, and it was the heart of the Despotate of Epirus, and the Ottoman vilayet. Ioannina is famous throughout Greece for its silverwork, with a plethora of shops selling silver jewelry, bronzeware and decorative items (serving trays, recreations of shields and swords, etc.). The ornate style of the jewelry and artwork tends to reflect more Turkish sensibilities than Greek ones, likely due to the lengthy Turkish occupation of the area. Within the castle in the centre of Ioannina city, the mosque of Aslan Pasha houses the Municipal Ethnographic Museum, which includes works of folk art, as well as weapons and swords from the period of the Ottoman occupation of the area.
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